Mock Verzuz: De La Soul vs. The Pharcyde
Ever since Timbaland and Swizz Beatz conceived of Verzuz last year during a worldwide quarantine, the format has continued to grow in popularity, providing some much needed positivity for music fans around the globe.
So far, fans have been treated to battles between legends, such as RZA and DJ Premier, Snoop Dogg and DMX, and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. Coming up on a year since the very first Verzuz battle between Swizz Beatz and Timbaland took place, the super-producers don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
While fans prepare for the next installment of Verzuz, a heavily anticipated battle between Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, which is set to take place this Saturday, March 20, we thought it would be fun to imagine and analyze some of our dream potential Verzuz battles.
First up, we have a nineties throwback/reunion edition, as the legendary east coast group, De La Soul, takes on their west coast counterparts, The Pharcyde. In our format, each group will match fifteen songs against the other and the group with the most head to head wins will win the Verzuz.
Note: Because The Pharcyde only released two albums before they disbanded, we will only be considering songs from De La Soul’s first four albums, all of which were released between 1989 and 1996. In other words, anything post-90s will not be taken into consideration.
Now let’s get into it.
Matchup #1: “The Magic Number” vs. “Oh Shit”
To kick things off, we have De La’s “The Magic Number” facing off against The Pharcyde’s “Oh Shit.” While both tracks are fantastic examples of creative and interesting ways to lead off a debut LP, “The Magic Number” takes this one by a slim margin, thanks to its quirky and memorable verses that set the tone for the rest of the groundbreaking 3 Feet High and Rising.
Point De La.
Matchup #2: “Eye Know” vs. “On the DL”
For matchup #2, we have two more debut album staples going head to head. Although “Eye Know” is one of the most memorable tracks off of 3 Feet, the massively underrated “On The DL” takes this one. That being said, you really can’t go wrong with either of these tracks.
Matchup #3: “Dog Eat Dog” vs. “Drop”
Next up, De La’s “Dog Eat Dog” goes up against The Pharcyde’s “Drop.” While the conscious lyrics of “Dog Eat Dog” make it a memorable track, the J Dilla-produced “Drop” features a dope beat, which is built around a sample played backwards. That, paired with the track’s fiercely creative Spike Jonze-directed music video makes “Drop” near impossible to beat.
Matchup #4: “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays” vs. “Soul Flower (Remix)”
Point De La.
Matchup #5: “Ego Trippin’, Part 2” vs. “Groupie Therapy”
With “Ego Trippin’,” Posdnuos and Trugoy showed just how clever they could be, making fun of the boastful, more commercial Hip-Hop that they were so against, but as one of the most catchy, enjoyable, and memorable songs from their whole catalog, The Pharcyde’s “Groupie Therapy” takes this one by a slim margin.
Matchup #6: “Patti Dooke” vs. “I’m That Type Of Nigga”
Though it is perhaps one of their best-known songs, The Pharcyde’s “I’m That Type Of Nigga” loses out to “Patti Dooke.” Coming on their third album, Buhloone Mindstate, the De La track features members of James Brown’s legendary horn section and a hook sung by none other than Guru himself. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Point De La.
Matchup #7: “Breakadawn” vs. “Y”
Though “Y” features some fantastic verses from Imani and Fatlip that cannot be ignored, the Prince Paul-produced “Breakadawn” is almost unbeatable. Give it a listen and you’ll understand why.
Point De La.
Matchup #8: “Buddy” vs. “Something That Means Something”
Though the Native Tongues posse cut, “Buddy,” is essential, the genius of J Dilla is on full display on “Something That Means Something,” one of the dopest instrumentals in The Pharcyde’s entire discography.
Matchup #9: “Brakes” vs. “She Said”
Easily one of the closest matchups out of the fifteen, this one really could’ve gone either way. That being said, the extremely underrated “Brakes,” off of De La’s fourth LP, Stakes Is High, is a prime example of Posdnuos’ almost unrivaled level of sophistication when he gets behind the mic. This one goes to Pos and De La by the slimmest of margins.
Point De La.
Matchup #10: “Ghetto Thang” vs. “Bullshit”
One of the dopest intro tracks to an album ever, The Pharcyde’s “Bullshit” takes this one without a question.
Matchup #11: “Dinninit” vs. “Splattitorium”
Another underrated cut off the essential Stakes Is High, “Dinninit” represents De La at their best. Full of catchy punchlines, a memorable hook, and a multi-layered instrumental, the track beats out “Splattitorium,” The Pharcyde’s clever ode to their favourite mind-altering substance.
Point De La.
Matchup #12: “Itsoweezee (HOT)” vs. “Otha Fish”
Another close round, both “Itsoweezee” and “Otha Fish” are tracks that bring out the best in their respective groups. The edge here goes to “Otha Fish,” though, purely because of SlimKid 3’s uniquely melodic flow, which he doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for.
Matchup #13: “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa Claus” vs. “Officer”
One of the most chilling stories ever told in Hip-Hop, “Millie” is one of those tracks that makes it clear why De La’s music is so timeless. Over the course of four minutes and nine seconds and a Prince Paul beat that samples the Funkadelic classic, “I’ll Stay”, Posdnuos and Trugoy the Dove deliver a clinic in storytelling, detailing the tragic life of one of their high school classmates. Though the track tells a very specific story, it is a devastating portrait of the harm and consequences that stem from sexual and domestic abuse. On this track, De La Soul bring awareness to an extremely important issue, while lending a voice to victims everywhere. It truly is a masterpiece.
Point De La.
Matchup #14: “Me Myself and I” vs. “Passin’ Me By”
Both groups bring the heat in this heavyweight matchup between two of their most famous tracks, respectively. Though “Me Myself and I” is a prime example of the quirkiness that De La brought to Hip-Hop early in their careers, it loses this matchup. Having only grown in popularity since its release, “Passin Me By” has come to be regarded as an era-defining track. From the unmistakable organ sample in the track’s intro, all the way through to Fatlip’s closing verse, which most Hip-Hop aficionados can recite by heart, “Passin Me By” is an undisputed classic, and for good reason.
And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The scores are tied at seven apiece, De La and Pharcyde, east coast and west coast, are neck and neck. Matchup #15 will decide the winner. Lets go…
Matchup #15: “Stakes is High” vs. “Runnin’”
To close out this legendary Verzuz battle, De La Soul and The Pharcyde go head to head with arguably two of the greatest Hip-Hop songs to come out of the 1990s. With both tracks being produced by the legendary J Dilla, “Stakes is High” and “Runnin’” have a lot in common. Both songs feature dope beats, dope verses, and address serious themes, something relatively rare for these two fun-loving groups. While Fatlip and The Pharcyde exclaim that you “Can’t keep runnin away,” from your problems, Pos and De La make it known that the “Stakes is high,” both in the music industry and society in general. Both groups vent their frustrations over their respective tracks, through high quality verses, but it is the wordplay of Posdnuos’ that gives “Stakes is High” the edge in this matchup. Proving once and for all that he is one of the most sophisticated and underrated MC’s of all time, Posdnuos goes for blood on the track, setting the bar for lyricism at an atmospheric height that has rarely been matched since. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and go listen to these brilliant tracks immediately.
De La Soul wins with a final score of 8-7.
Even though De La came out on top in this one, it really could have gone either way. No matter whether you agree with our picks or not, there is no question that this Verzuz battle would be legendary. Let us know what you think of our picks down below. And let’s make this thing happen.